I hardly dare to say…

… but we have finally exchanged contracts on our house, have a completion date and have found a boat we like! Joy marched into the local council offices last week, asked how much longer the local search would take and our buyer’s solicitor had it the next day. Good Girl!!!

The next step is getting the boat surveyed, which we planned to do in two stages 1) An in-water inspection and valuation, then if all was well, 2) An out-of-water survey. The K & A however is not overly blessed with dry-dock facilities, and the only dates available are May 13th, or the 20th, or June 10th. May 20th would be good because that’s the day we complete our house sale, but the surveyor is not available that day, so it looks like we’ll have to do it in one hit on the 13th and wait to purchase after the 20th if all goes well. Watch this space!

Meanwhile the packing and disposing of a lifetimes clutter goes on, but it’s exciting, frustrating and exhausting all at the same time!

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Steam at Heyford

One of the joys of living near the canal is also being near the railway line and sometimes we are treated to a steam train coming through!



If you look carefully you can see Bones waiting for the train… standing on the roof of her boat, and still missing it. 😀

The trials & tribulations of selling a house

Oh.. My.. Goodness! They say selling a house is only second in raising stress levels to getting married (or is it divorced?) and they might just be right!

The good news is that we have a new buyer (I won’t say it’s sold until the money’s in the bank!) and the process is under way towards completing the sale. I thought these HIPs (Home information Packs) which we are compelled to buy, costing hundreds of pounds, were supposed to streamline the sale process, but oh no, the buyers solicitor wants to do a new local search because ours will be out of date and that has caused a six week delay, so far, whist Stroud District Council get their act together. Our buyers have changed from buying jointly, to buying in a single name only to take advantage of the Stamp Duty exemption for first time buyers, notwithstanding the fact that we accepted their (low) offer on the basis that they wanted to complete within 8 weeks! But our solicitors assure us that “It won’t be long now”.

Solicitors!!! What a load of wasters (putting it as politely as I can) I could write a book! We actually saw a boat we would have liked to buy, but the broker wouldn’t accept a deposit from us without some evidence that we had a buyer for our house. Our solicitor promised to do it the next day, but would I send an email to remind him (!!!) In fact he took three days just in time for us to ring the broker and be told that he had accepted a deposit from someone else 😦

Never-the-less we have seen another boat we like, but feel it’s overpriced, and are off today to view two more.

Ah well, lets hope my next post won’t be so long in appearing and I can report some Really Good News.

New Year, New Start?

Well I ended my last post back in October by wondering what we would be doing at Christmas and look it’s 2010 already! Where did that time go?

Pre-Christmas I spent an unexpected few days in hospital causing alarm to family and friends alike and was off work for a fortnight. Thank God, although dramatic at the time, involving a ride in an ambulance with the blues and twos on, there was no lasting damage and no treatment required save a course of antibiotics.

We spent Christmas back home in Gloucestershire and enjoyed Christmas dinner with our son and family and had ‘open house’ on New Year’s Eve giving us a chance to catch up with lots of friends seeing the New Year in with many of them.

So after a welcome break interrupted only by the unwelcome necessity of the annual tax return it was back to work in the New Year with more new boats to fit engines to and then winter arrived! Joy managed to take a tumble on the ice on the way home from Sunday Lunch at The Barley Mow, wasn’t the cider … honest, and has been hobbling about all week.

Despite the Christmas holiday and the bad weather our house has still been getting viewings and we are hoping that the start of 2010 will see our house sold and our life as ‘Liveaboards’ beginning.

As I write this a first-time-buyer wants to come back for a second look so we live in hope!
Let’s hope my next posting will contain good news about it.

Season's End

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Autumn day at Lower Heyford village.
Time slips by, the leaves turn golden brown and start to fall and this year’s hire-boating season comes to an end.

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Red Sky at night
The seasonal staff start to depart for pastures new, ranging from Mexico to the Midlands.
Those left are counting the days, but for the engineering staff, boat-fitters and painters new jobs are beginning.

Three new shells have arrived from Colecraft and already the fitting out, painting and engine fitting has begun and we are over-run with extra carpenters (or are they boat-fitters?) It’s going to be a busy winter I think!

We continue to learn more and more about the canal community and have found that “Dusty” is something of an institution on the Oxford Canal, Mark Boardman (07986 189 074) delivers coal, gas and diesel, by narrowboat, up and down the Oxford in all winds and weathers, and picks up his deliveries at the wharf fortnightly. So here’s this month’s feature, a fully loaded Dusty setting off on his rounds.

We are starting to make friends and contacts in the local community, both through work and through the local church at Heyford Park Chapel (on the old Upper Heyford air base) a lively group from diverse backgrounds who have made us very welcome.
Our house has had a buyer who then promptly dropped out (whoever buys a house without a firm job offer!) so it’s back on the market again 😦
Oh well, I wonder what we’ll be doing at Christmas.

Two Months at the Wharf

Little Venice
Little Venice
It’s now almost two months since I started work at Oxfordshire Narrowboats and must admit to enjoying the new-found variety in my work. I am now not only an engineer and auto-electrician but (apparently) also a plumber, carpenter and central heating engineer not to mention narrowboat-handler.

However… I’m enjoying myself immensely, especially when I get the chance to go on ‘call outs’ when I can get really immersed in a job (not literally… yet! 😀 )
I have a great team of colleagues (all barking mad of course, they’re boaters!) working with & around me, this is especially true on ‘hand-over’ days when the boats have to be emptied, cleaned and serviced in the space of about four hours come rain or shine so as to be ready for their next hirers. This means that cleaners, engineers, poo tank empty-ers et al trying not to fall over each other in the rush!

We are discovering the local pubs around the area and are lucky to have our local, The Bell within a short walk. The Barley Mow at Upper Heyford does good home-cooked food too and The Rock of Gibraltar has a Greek landlord and we are looking forward to sampling some Greek food on Joy’s birthday next week.

Now how *does* it all go back together?
Now how *does* it all go back together?
Yesterday I got the chance to work on a boat in Little Venice, a wonderful leafy oasis near Paddington in Central London, Joy helped me navigate in and out of the big city and we arrived back at Heyford at about 8pm and arrived back in Dursley, for my days off at about quarter to eleven, a tiring but satisfying day!

Life at Heyford Wharf

heyfordWe’ve now been at Heyford Wharf for nearly two weeks now and life is certainly not dull!
I had intended to start work on August 3rd, but as Sam, the other engineer there was going on holiday to Canada on the 4th for 3 weeks it was deemed a ‘good idea’ if I started on the previous Friday so at least he could give me a brief ‘induction’.
Since then I’ve serviced engines, attended breakdowns, drilled out broken glow plugs, refitted a ‘cilled’ rudder and fitted new engine mounts to a boat on the Thames at Radcot. Oh yes AND tried to get my new ‘Electrical Workshop’ set up.

The entrance to my new Electrical Workshop
The entrance to my new Electrical Workshop
Monday afternoon David, ‘The Boss’ popped into the workshop and said ” I wonder if you could do me a favour?” He needed on of his dayboats brought back from Thrupp to the wharf and asked Joy & me if we could do it. It’s amazing what confidence people have in my boating ability considering my lack of experience! Thrupp to Heyford is a mere 8 miles but with 5 locks and a maximum speed of 4 mph it takes 4½ hours, so it was getting dark by the time we got back to base after leaving Thrupp at 5:15pm. Joy described it as a steep learning curve, was that something to do with stepping off the boat to moor up when it was still moving & landing head first in the hedge? (She said something about me going too fast!)
She didn’t drop the mooring rope though… Good Girl!!!

Life as Liveaboards